Wednesday, November 9, 2016

9/11 - 11/9

Fifteen years ago, we gathered in the music room at The San Francisco School following the 9/11 attack. It was impossible to make sense of such violent terror, but what other choice did we have? We sang songs, cried together, held each other up and vowed to continue our day-to-day work of creating peace borne from loving and knowing children and letting them know they were loved and known. We understood that a terrorist is a desperate person with hatred and despair in their heart.

Today, on 11/9, we gathered again. The occasion was just as mind-boggling, staggering and terrifying, but maybe a bit more so because the terrorists were our fellow citizens armed with votes, votes bequeathed to us by courageous forward-looking people. The shot their arrows straight into the heart of hope and justice and humane feeling, slayed civil discourse, shot down compassion, exploded bombs of greed and strange anger and hatred into the sacred spaces of our hallowed halls of a once-upon-a-time democracy.

So I sang the song The Grey Goose, about a goose shot down, cooked, served for dinner, thrown into the hogpen, but a goose so invincible that nothing could kill it.

“And the last time I saw it, Lawd, Lawd, Lawd, It was flying ‘cross the big sky, Lawd, Lawd, Lawd, with a long string of goslings…”

Last night, I lost my last shred of hope and could find nothing to comfort myself. But now I owed the kids something better. Here's what I managed to come up with after singing the song: 

Kids, that grey goose was my hope. Was our hope that just got shot down. Right now it’s  feeling the pain of that bullet in its heart and we feel like it will die. But this song is reminding us that our hope, if it’s worth anything, has to be as tough and strong as that grey goose. No gun can kill it, no fork can stick it, nothing can eat it and chew it to pieces. It’s waiting for its moment to fly back up and the sky and this time a long string of goslings will be behind. Like you kids helping me sing this song.

How do you keep the grey goose heart beating? Not by building an iron wall around it. The spirit is protected by the soft tissues of the beating, caring heart. Isn’t that interesting?
So yes, these killers of the human spirit indeed can hurt us—change the laws to keep us under their thumbs, denounce us, deny us, expel us, refuse us our rights, beat us, jail us. It’s not going to be easy. But if you keep your grey goose spirit hidden from them and alive in you, we will survive and carry on.

Kids, I want you to remember this day. This is the second time our country has been attacked, the first from without, the second from within. But both times, we held each up and helped each other out and shed tears of grief together. I want you to remember sometime in the future that we took time to talk about this, to sing about it and let you know again, as we do each day, that we love you and we care for you and we will help you keep your grey goose spirit flying. And nobody can stop us. Yes, indeed.

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